Piece-by-piece info about cancer therapy options yield larger benefits

April 21st, 2011 - 1:01 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr 21 (ANI): A new study has found that women who choose among different breast cancer treatment options make smarter choices when getting the information and making decisions in small doses rather than all at once, as is customary.

It’s long been known that people who aren’t good with numbers have a harder time understanding the risk information they need to make good medical decisions, said Brian Zikmund-Fisher, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan Health System.

Zikmund-Fisher and co-authors Peter Ubel and Andrea Angott of Duke University tested whether asking women to make a series of simpler choices rather than one complex decision would help them understand when aggressive post-surgery therapies, such as chemotherapy, actually yield larger benefits.

The researchers found that the group of women in the study who weren’t good with numbers became confused when faced with as few as four treatment options at once, and chose chemotherapy regardless of whether their benefit would be 1 percent or 5 percent.

Zikmund-Fisher says the findings send a clear message about physician-patient communication.

Even women who are good with numbers benefit from having information presented piece-by-piece because they can better understand how much benefit comes from each treatment option, he added. (ANI)

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